Back-to-school season is quickly creeping up on us, and if you're a student, that means you'll soon have to face the rather daunting demand of being alert, awake, and ready to learn at most hours of the day. So, you could just walk around with an IV of caffeine in your arm all day to get by -- or you could try a little something called a coffee nap. Trust me, a coffee nap is the perfect life hack for your back-to-school woes.
And what, you may ask, is a coffee nap?
Basically, it's exactly what it sounds like. You have a cup of coffee, and then you lay down and take a nap for about a half hour or so. While it might seem counterintuitive, given that the normal sequence of events is usually sleep then coffee, there really is a bit of science behind the whole thing. And it might just give you the boost of energy you'll need when you're hit with that first exam of the semester.
If you can manage to get the timing right, a coffee nap will give you a jolt of caffeine while you simultaneously reap the benefits of a good old-fashioned cat nap.
See, it actually takes a little while before the caffeine really affects you and your level of alertness and energy. Coffee has to be digested through your small intestine, go through your bloodstream, and finally hit the glorious powerhouse that is your brain.
Now, this process takes about 20 minutes. And when it comes to taking a midday snooze, 20 minutes is your target timeline, particularly when you're looking to put the “power” in power nap. Anything longer, and you start sinking into a deeper sleep, which causes grogginess and isn't that good for you.
Plus, the energy boost you get from a coffee nap can help stop your brain from slowing itself down throughout the day as you work.
Part of the reason using your brain during the day makes you groggy -- while you're, say, writing that paper on second-wave feminism -- is because of a depressant chemical your body produces called adenosine. When you're awake, adenosine builds up every hour, and it promotes sleep.
But caffeine can actually block adenosine from your brain receptors. While your brain is turned off and doing nothing for the half hour of your nap, the caffeine has an uninterrupted opportunity to do its thang. By the time you wake up, your brain is refreshed and pulsing with the va-va-voom of caffeine that coffee-drinkers love and, let's be real, totally rely on.
Fun fact: Even air traffic controllers have been capitalizing on this coffee nap trick for a while now. So think of how much good it'll do you when you have to pull an all-nighter come finals season.
All that being said, it's worth the reminder that coffee isn't great for a solid night's rest. So use your espresso wisely, people. Stick to the occasional coffee nap, and you'll slay the semester with ease.